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Lawsuit Claims Prison Recorded Attorney-Client Meetings and Phone Calls

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on February 17, 2017 12:59 PM

At the same time a class-action alleges Kansas prison officials recorded attorney-client phone calls, a court-appointed special master is reporting the prison also videotaped at least 700 attorney-client meetings.

Special master David Cohen made the report after reviewing videotapes of 30 attorney visits at the federal prison in Leavenworth. Cohen, who was appointed in a criminal case to examine the prison's video set-up, concluded that more than 700 lawyer-client meetings had been videotaped during a 12-week period.

"It appears all of these attorney-inmate meetings were recorded," Cohen said.

Although the video-recordings did not include sound, Cohen also investigated attorney-client phone calls that were recorded.

Too Much Video Information

The Leavenworth Detention Center, which is operated by private company CoreCivic, has 156 video cameras throughout the facility. The company placed cameras in seven attorney-inmate rooms.

In his report to Judge Julie Robinson Cohen said he randomly selected 30 video sessions to review. He said it would have taken too long to review about 14,000 hours of tape made during the time period at issue in the case.

The U.S. Attorney's Office, which has been at the center of the controversy, routinely received the tapes but said "no employee of the United States Attorney's Office or law enforcement officer" has viewed any recording. When the judge learned about the videotaping practice, however, she ordered the practice to "cease and desist" and took control of the video.

Class Action Phone Calls

Meanwhile, attorneys filed a class-action against the prison operators for allegedly recording attorney-client phone calls. They claim CoreCivic and Securus Technologies Inc. "have been, improperly and without authorization, or consent by either party, recording confidential phone calls and meetings between attorneys" and their clients.

"They were able to review any recorded call at their leisure," the plaintiffs say in their privacy suit.

In a follow up report in the criminal case, Cohen said he analyzed 48,333 telephone audio files from the facility and found that more than 200 of those calls were made to known attorney numbers.

According to reports, the prison operators have faced similar privacy issues in California and Texas.

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